Manomet, Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA

Manomet, Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA
Manomet, Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA

Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Audition, Priscilla Beach Theatre, Priscilla Beach, Manomet, Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA

The Audition - these two folding chairs sitting alone on the stage likely strike both joy and terror into the heart of each prospective actor/actress as they approach the stage.  They know they will sit there to read lines and perform a brief scene.  They may have to sing too, since this is a musical.  

I had the opportunity to observe a recent audition for the upcoming show, "Fiddler on the Roof," which is the premier performance in the restored Priscilla Beach Theatre's (PBT) season on the Barn Stage beginning July 10, 2015.

Each of these aspiring performers has trained, dreamed, rehearsed, and performed in countless productions, many beginning as young kids, perhaps in a summer program much like what Priscilla Beach Theatre offers every year.

It's an intensely focused setting - the prospective performer, the director, theatre executives, the pianist. In some cases, as shown above,  the director will read lines with the performer while theatre executives observe from the audience seats. 

I am not an experienced theatre guy.  Other than a brief opportunity in high school 45+ years ago as the light board operator for local productions (which I really enjoyed), my adult experience has been as an audience member only.  I can only imagine what goes into the myriad of details in bringing a production to an audience. Theatre guy or not, I am truly impressed with the whole experience at PBT.

One of the most critical elements (along with a dozen other critical elements), is the selection of the cast.  In this case, through an audition of interested prospective performers. As I said, I am not an experienced theatre guy but, as a retired air traffic control executive, I understand the importance of the right person for the job, the synergy of a group, the value and importance of ensemble, the ability to give and take direction in a positive and productive manner, and the ability to perform under pressure.  It looks to me like the time spent in auditioning prospective talent is time well spent.

Co-owners and guardians of Priscilla Beach Theatre, Bob and Sandy Malone observe the auditions from the audience seats.

Sometimes the director, Ron Fassler, observes from the audience perspective also.

Sometimes the director sits and reads the scene with the actor/actress. 

The director looks and listens for that special combination of qualities suitable for this production.

Sometimes he talks about the lines with the actor/actress.

Sometimes the actor/actress stands alone and sings, hopeful his/her voice has that quality the director wants.

Each person knows that everything rests on these few brief minutes when they "stand and deliver." It's an all or nothing challenge, win or lose, no gray area, either chosen for the part or not.

They each hope against hope that the few minutes they have to demonstrate their art and craft will be enough for the director to choose them. It's a solo act - showing what you've got - sound, sight, voice, diction, inflection, accent, presence, projection, confidence, and many other attributes - hoping that the director will choose you. I suspect for some that it awakens the old hope and fear from elementary school when choosing sides for kick ball at recess, "oh please, - pick me, pick me, pick me."

But who is this mysterious "director" who wields such power over these hopefuls?

For this production, he is  Ron Fassler. He has been chosen by PBT co-owners and guardians Bob and Sandy Malone to direct the first production on the newly restored Barn Stage, "Fiddler on the Roof." He is an actor, writer, and director with thirty-five years of professional credits in film, television, and stage. More than that, however, is this wonderful information - for three consecutive summers, between the ages of seventeen and nineteen, back in the 1970's, he cut his teeth on the great American plays and musicals in an idyllic setting with a wonderful group of passionate and dedicated young people - right here at Priscilla Beach Theatre! - including performing in "Fiddler on the Roof!"  Imagine his joy and surprise to be chosen to direct the first show in this restored and reborn venue, thirty-something years later. How cool is that! An amazing full circle experience!

The clock is ticking and the show must go on - choices must be made and roles filled. The owners and director confer on the role choices - so much talent and desire - so few positions available.

And then, this moment  -  this magical moment for a performer when, right on the spot, the director sees/hears/feels that combination of attributes that makes an individual perfect for the show - and announces and congratulates her on the spot as a new cast member - how thrilling for me to witness!

It's going to be a great production and director Ron Fassler (left) and co-owner Bob Malone (right) are happy at the prospect.

From my perspective, these aspiring actors/actresses are all winners whether they get the part or not. Their willingness to put themselves on the line to be judged so quickly and absolutely - to be passed over or not - to have the next two months of their lives filled with excitement, hard work, and the joy of performance or, to try to find another show somewhere else to go through the same process - it's a challenging path, that of the actor/actress, young or old. 

I for one, as an audience member who, over my lifetime, has been moved to tears of both joy and sadness by live performances, am glad these aspiring actors/actresses are willing to go through this and thank them for their commitment to the art and craft.

Come celebrate the grand re-opening of this precious jewel of American theatre, the Barn Stage at Priscilla Beach Theatre, Broadway in a Barn since 1937.

"Fiddler on the Roof," will open on the Barn Stage on July 10, 2015. Call PBT at 508-224-4888 or online at for tickets.

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